One of the most exciting times for students within the church is taking part in a youth mission trip, which tend to have a two-fold impact. First and foremost, your youth serve and have opportunities to share with non-believers. Second, these discipleship opportunities spark growth and strengthen the faith of your students. 

Offering youth mission trips prompts students to bond by traveling together and working alongside each other in a safe, fun, rewarding environment. Check out the list below for some ideas to help you choose and plan your next youth mission trip. 

Choosing a Youth Mission Trip

Here are a few different types of youth mission trips to look into for your church. 

Local Youth Mission Trips

Local mission trips are by far the most economical and accessible type of outreach opportunity. Find organizations in your community and identify ways you can meet their needs. This allows students who may be unable to travel internationally the opportunity to serve as well. It is a great start in a progression toward a mission trip involving travel. 

A great example of this is setting up a VBS and having students from the youth ministry serve as volunteers. This creates a great outreach opportunity in your own backyard. The thing to remember about missions is that no matter where you are, there are always people that need to hear the Gospel. 

You can also plan opportunities that may be a little further from your congregation but still don’t take a ton of travel time — an adjacent city or state mission. It provides a level of independence, especially if this is the first time they branch off from home. 

International Youth Mission Trips

International trips are, typically, a more intensive form of mission work. Whether it’s a week-long project or spans over several months, these trips are incredible, faith-building experiences for students. There are so many established organizations that can help logistically with international trips, such as Praying Pelican Missions.

In-Response Youth Mission Trips

Churches often respond to major catastrophes or natural disasters by planning relief missions. These trips are extremely impactful for both students as well as for those who are suffering.  Most often, disaster relief trips are quick and short-term. Established resources such as Samaritan’s Purse and American Red Cross are beneficial in helping get these missions up and running.

Planning a Youth Mission Trip

Set up Donation/Funding Opportunities 

Financing is one of the biggest factors that often prevent students from serving on mission trips. Involve the congregation in the student ministry by hosting opportunities for them to donate specifically to youth missions. Bake sales, car washes, and funding campaigns are great ways to include the entire congregation. They want to contribute. Seeing youth grow in and lead others to Christ is an amazing opportunity for a church family. 

Secure Volunteers 

The foundation of a well-executed youth mission trip is the team of leadership volunteers. Mission trips cannot function without adults who are willing to step up and serve alongside the students. In order to involve all congregants with youth missions in some capacity, your church needs to establish a variety of mission opportunities. There are so many ways people can contribute to the success of the trip: prepping meals, gathering supplies beforehand, organizing trip details, as well as traveling with and leading the team directly. 

Identify Opportune Times 

Summer, holidays, and school breaks are all great times to host a mission trip. Many churches take advantage of spring break and fall break for short-term mission trips and utilize the longer summer break for international or long-term mission trips. Complete one- or two-day missions locally – serving at local food banks, helping set up Christmas events for children in need, visiting local hospitals/shut-ins/nursing homes, etc.

Next Steps

Providing your students the opportunity to serve through youth mission trips is crucial. It allows them opportunities to bond as a team, grow and develop their faith, and live out God’s great commission to be disciples to all nations. For even more church leadership resources, be sure to check out the Church Relevance Course Shop.